Friday, November 07, 2008

Big box bookstore troubles

Husband and I went out for a sandwich after work tonight. The weather here has been in the lower 70's today and this evening was cool but not uncomfortable so we took our soup and salad outside to eat on the patio. Cream of mushroom soup and baby greens with warm chicken. We shared the salad, their idea of a 'small' is a huge mound on a dinner plate. A friend from church happened by, so we sat and caught up while she ate. I've missed them, we attend different services, so we don't always see each other on Sundays. Each of has children, which of course only adds to the scheduling issues and exhaustion factor. Parents'exhaustion, not the kids. LOL ;)

On to the big box problems. As has been widely published in the press, this chain is having extreme financial difficulties. Just today, in fact, Galley Cat reports that the chain may not pay their distributors over the holidays. I worked for this chain for five years and I have watched changes move slowly across the stores in our area.

First they stopped having floor staff shelve books, which reduced familiarity with stock. Wages were also lowered reducing quality of employees. Then they increased 'softlines' (higher markups = more $$) floor space simultaneously reducing shelving footage of books, cds and dvds. Nowadays it is common to see significant empty shelving footage in all product areas and increasing amounts of faceouts (which take up more room thereby reducing inventory). Now they are dramatically increasing shelving footage for remainders which reduces their financial exposure to new books that may not sell at all. Remainders are often bought on the cheap by the truckload or at least that's what I was told when I worked there a few years ago. So, if you can get a lot of slightly older books cheap versus fewer brand new bookswhich may not sell at all, they appear to be opting for more cheaper, older titles.

It's sad, really. The store I knew and loved and enjoyed working for is gone now. Sales staff who are unfamiliar with product and inventory and who often chat with each other over their headsets, ignoring customers. Or, as has happened several times, I've encountered rude sales people who imply I a) don't know what I'm talking about b) they don't have to call another store for me because they're not obliged to and/or c) all of the above. "Besides, it's after 4 and I'm off the clock now." Reduced book & dvd & cd inventory. What inventory they do have is likely to be misshelved in an incorrect section, out of alphabetical order or stuck in the back room in a box somewhere. Ask someone to dig it out for you? You must be joking. Stores are much more likely to be messy.

It appears that I will now buy the majority of my books online. I'm a dedicated book store lover, it breaks my heart.


CindyS said...

I also love bookstores. You just don't feel like that anywhere else in the world. Sorry that the one you loved is falling apart. I can only hope our one big box bookstore will hold it's shape over the next few years.


Bookwormom said...

It's the only big bookstore within 20 miles. I hope they manage to stay afloat. My heart will break if I have travel that far for new books. :(